Overview: Oman is an important regional counterterrorism partner that actively worked in 2016 to prevent terrorists from conducting attacks or using the country as a safe haven. The Omani government remains concerned about the conflict in Yemen and the expansion of safe haven there by al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS in Yemen, which present potential threats to Oman's border. Omani officials regularly engaged with U.S. officials on the need to counter violent extremism and terrorism, but rarely publicly broadcast their counterterrorism efforts. The Government of Oman sought training and equipment from the United States and from other countries to support its efforts to control Omani land, air, and maritime borders. Oman also used U.S. security assistance to improve its counterterrorism tactics, techniques, and procedures. A member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, Oman issued a series of official statements condemning terrorist attacks in 2016.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Royal Decree 8/2007 outlines specific penalties, including the death penalty and life imprisonment, for various terrorist acts, including establishment or leadership of a terrorist group, attempts to join a terrorist group, attempts to recruit for a terrorist group, development of an explosive or weapon, or takeover of any mode of transportation for purposes of terrorism.

Counterterrorism investigations, crisis response, and border security capabilities were limited by local capacity and a challenging operating environment due to Oman's extensive coastline and its long and remote borders with Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Nevertheless, Oman's many agencies with counterterrorism jurisdiction communicated and coordinated daily. The Sultan's Special Forces and the Royal Oman Police (ROP) Special Task Force are Oman's primary counterterrorism response forces. The Omani Internal Security Service and Royal Office also play key roles in securing Oman from terrorist threats.

The Government of Oman recognized the need to improve its capabilities and took advantage of U.S. counterterrorism and law enforcement training and assistance. In 2016, the ROP, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry participated in the State Department's Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program, designed to assist Omani personnel to enhance interdiction capabilities at official ports of entry on land and at sea. Prominent in the EXBS training program were 10 weeks of training for the ROP Coast Guard on visit, board, search, and seizure operations, and the development of six ROP Coast Guard instructors to lead future iterations of the course.

Oman also participated in the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance program, which included training on airport security management, border security, interdicting terrorist activities, and instructor development for Omani security officials representing the Royal Oman Police and a number of civilian agencies.

The major deterrents to more effective law enforcement and border security are limited resources, nascent interagency coordination, and the need for continued training to develop advanced law enforcement skills. Oman's border with Yemen features rugged, mountainous terrain, which further challenges border security efforts. Omani authorities continued to make progress on construction of a fence along the border with Yemen to prevent illegal entry into Oman. The Omani and U.S. governments continued to engage in frequent border-security related training endeavors.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Oman is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Oman revised its countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) law with Royal Decree 30/2016 in 2016. The revised CFT law requires financial institutions, private industry, and non-profit organizations to screen transactions for money laundering or terrorist financing and requires the collection of Know Your Customer data for wire transfers. The revised CFT law also consolidated CFT authority within the National Center for Financial Information and established the center as an independent government entity. While progress has been made, a number of gaps remain, including issuing a decision on mechanisms for implementing the UN Security Council ISIL (Da'esh) and al-Qa'ida sanctions regime, issuing anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism regulations to the sectors identified in the law, and designating wire transfer amounts for customer due diligence procedures.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Countering Violent Extremism: The Grand Mufti of Oman, Sheikh Ahmed al-Khalili, published an essay in October 2014, calling on all Muslims to reject extremism and promote tolerance, themes he has repeatedly amplified in his popular and widely broadcast weekly television program. The government continued to promote an advocacy campaign entitled "Islam in Oman" designed to encourage tolerant and inclusive Islamic practices in 2016. The project highlighted the commonalities between Islam's sects and between Islam and other religions. A Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs (MERA) program entitled "Tolerance, Understanding, Coexistence – Oman's Message of Islam" was part of the government's effort to enhance interfaith dialogue; MERA also promoted tolerance at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in November to celebrate the International Day for Tolerance.

International and Regional Cooperation: Oman participates in the U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Strategic Cooperation Forum, and participated in the U.S.-GCC Riyadh summit in April and the U.S.-GCC Strategic Commodity Identification Training Instructor Cadre Development meetings in April and October. Oman regularly votes in favor of counterterrorism measures in the UN General Assembly, the Arab League, the GCC, and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. Oman became the 41st country to join the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism in late December.


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